Manan’s story is like that of many other children in his village; like theirs but not the same as their because he is able to talk about it in the past thanks to the action of an Indian NGO, the Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA), which convinced his parents to take boy out of the mine and put him into a rehabilitation centre in Jaipur to study.
“More than half the children of our village are engaged in mica mining and so are their parents. The youngest are 6-7 years old,” Manan said.
Families in Samsahiriya on average have ten members who are employed in the ‘khadan’, the mine.
Some of the ore can be found on the surface but a good deal has to be dug out of the bowels of the earth through tunnels. In the past some tunnels have collapsed killing miners.
For Manan a working day would begin at 10 am and last until 6 pm.
The day's haul would then be sold to agents, the price varying according to the quality. A kilo of ore could sell for as low as 4-8 rupees or as a high as 20 rupees (US$ 40 cents).
His life was like this until four years ago when the BBA got him to Jaipur to study.
Since then he has been on a mission to defend children’s rights. Whenever he visited his family, he tried to convince other families to let their children go to school instead of the mine. So far eight did.
“I would tell them that if they didn't allow their kids to study, the next generation too will suffer,” he said. Even though “it took many attempts” in the end “they were convinced.”